Masters Men

Winter Bikepacking

December 24th, 2021 by JoAnn Cranson

By Jonathan Meyer

Over the Thanksgiving weekend my brother and I were invited to go bikepacking for the first time with fellow Team Athletic Mentors rider Joel Bretzlaff near Cadillac. Not surprisingly, the weather 180 miles north of where you live is bound to be colder and more wintery. But our expedition would not discover that until it was too late to turn back.

This is my bike setup.

All four of us (James Meyer, Joel and Jason Bretzlaff, and I) are experienced campers and backpackers, but this adventure would still have us venturing into uncharted territory literally and figuratively speaking. Due to our limited experience in bikepacking, we had none of the required specialty gear like frame bags (storage that goes within the front triangle of your bike), large saddlebags, or front racks for carrying the larger items, and almost everyone went about acquiring these items in different ways. James and I borrowed gear from some avid bikepacking friends. I also built my own front rack with machined aluminum mounts, and an old 2×4, which I strapped the 4-person tent that we all slept in for two cold, snowy nights. Jason also fabricated most of his gear, using handlebar extenders for a front rack, and taking advantage of this impressive sowing skills to make his own frame bag.  The tent is the large roll strapped to the front, the frame bag is the dark grey triangle filling up the front triangle of my bike, and the saddle bag is the large bag sticking way off the back of my bike. All this gear plus the bike ended up weighing about 54lbs 9oz.

Picture from the first singletrack we rode.

A successful bikepacking trip cannot be completed without teamwork, and on this trip, we split the load of everything up evenly among our four team members. James and I carried the tent and the rainfly, Jason carried the Jet Boil, for boiling water to heat our food, and Joel carried
extra food for the group, and navigated us through the snowy forest on a route of his own design.

The planned trip was a 90 mile ride over the span of three days and two nights, starting on Friday and finishing on Sunday. The first day we started at Red Bridge River Access and rode 23 of our 25 planned miles through beautiful singletrack of the North Country Trail, blanketed in 3” of sticky

Picture from the single track just before the road into Mesick.

snow. For the first five miles of the trip, we were making fresh tracks. After about 13 miles of singletrack we rode pavement into and through Mesick, where we learned the dangers of icy pavement. Then we continued onto dirt forest road, and then finally a few more miles of singletrack, to where  we

hiked a few hundred yards off the trail and farther into the snowy wilderness and set up camp. After clearing away the snow and setting up our tent and sleeping arrangements, we boiled water for our dinners and headed to bed, preparing for the hardest stage of our journey, the 45-mile day of singletrack and forest road that awaited us tomorrow.

The next day we were low on water from hydrating while riding, and from boiling it for dinner from the night before and breakfast from that morning, and eventually we would need to find more if we were going to make the full 45 miles planned for the day. With that thought, we began our day on singletrack, descending into the river valley, and soon we reached a bridge where we would have to cross the river. This spot would be our last opportunity to refill on water, so it would have to get us through the rest of today, and all 20 miles of tomorrow. After filtering, we began to climb back out of the valley on the singletrack. Throughout the day we rode many miles of singletrack, forest roads, and ORV trails, all covered in 4 inches of snow and counting. The two main challenges for that day were the huge distance we needed to cover, and the forecasted 3 inches of new snow we were going to receive along the way.  As the day wore on, we began to get tired, and run out of food. Our initial plan was to camp at the top of Briar Hill, the highest point in the lower peninsula, but we would not make it past that point until the next morning. As the group lost steam and proclaimed they could go no further, we set up camp, made dinner, and went to bed. Over night the snow kept falling.

In the morning, we used a large portion of our remining water, and almost all of our remaining food. The main challenge for our final day would be keeping a positive attitude riding through about six inches of snow, with dwindling energy and resources, through even more accumulating snow. This would prove to be a difficult challenge, as temperatures continued to drop.  However, despite adversity, we managed to push through the wind and snow all the way back to our start point at Red Bridge. Though this trek was very challenging and difficult and even painful at some points, I very much enjoyed the experience, and would definitely do it again. I would recommend bikepacking to any serious cyclist who also has a love of the outdoors, although maybe make your first-ever trip in the summer when there won’t be six inches of snow hindering your progress every pedal stroke.

 


The Benefit of Athletic Mentor Teammates

December 6th, 2021 by JoAnn Cranson

By:  Bob Schultz

This year’s Iceman Cometh reminded me why I enjoy being a member of the Athletic Mentors family.  Shortly after Williamsburg Road, which is considered halfway, I had a rider behind me say “on your right” and was surprised to see an Athletic Mentors Kit go around me. I did not get a chance to see the face but got on their back tire to draft them. I was able to keep on his tire and finally pass but still did not recognize him. We started talking and introduced ourselves. It was John Harris, a new member from Petoskey. I recognized his name because he joined a Messenger group we have where he introduced himself. While we had just met, we were teammates and shared that bond. For the next hour we both rode as though we had trained together for years. John was faster on the flats and I was faster climbing so we traded leads and put each other in front where we felt the other could help and were calling out what was coming up next.

We talked after the race thanking each other for pushing us faster than we would have individually. We both needed the encouragement climbing Ice Breaker on tired legs then finishing strong. The phrase “Pain loves Company” proved very correct.

John and I had never met but being part of  Team Athletic Mentors means more than wearing a similar kit. I have talked to hundreds of riders during races and ridden together with some, but it’s not the same. We are teammates and worked as one. Not everyone is the same speed where riding together makes sense, but a simple word of encouragement when you go by helps. I am lucky I now have a new friend to ride with the next time I am in Petoskey.


The Divide – Gravel Road Race

August 24th, 2021 by JoAnn Cranson

By:  Christina Vipond

The Divide began in 2015 by Jeff Harding and Don Passenger as a fundraiser for Manton Public School’s Cross Country and track teams. It is held the last Sunday of July and is part of the Michigan Gravel Road Series.  

The Divide offers something for all gravel enthusiasts with 3 route options:

  • 19 miles with 1330 feet of elevation change
  • 34 miles with 1987 feet of elevation change
  • 50 miles with 2292 feet of elevation change.

There is an outer loop that the 34 mile course completes one time and the 50 mile racers get to experience it twice. The outer lap is ridden in opposite directions every year to vary the terrain profile. All routes begin and end on paved roads in Manton, Michigan. Around the 3 mile mark, these roads turn to mostly hard packed gravel with “a little two-track” and “a little sand”  for a scenic ride on the outskirts of the Manistee National Forest.

The Divide is a great race for gravel, mountain and fat tire bikes. As with so many other races, The Divide will leave racers wondering if they are riding the right size tire for the course. 

Jeff, Don and their volunteers (including the cross country and track teams) were top notch with ice cold drinks and freeze pops at all aid stations. The course was well marked with signs and volunteers were stationed throughout the course to make sure racers stayed on course. Photographers volunteered their time and posted over 1000 photos that racers could share for free. 

This year’s race took place on Sunday, July 25th. Jeff and Don, as always, did a great job of posting on The Divide’s Facebook to keep racers up to date. A post on July 22nd, updated the course conditions.  It was reported that the roads were recently brined and the outer loop was rolling “faster than ever”. Then the news about the infamous Gilbert Corners, a section of sandy two-track that keeps racers guessing about their bike choice.  The 19 milers could expect some sand at the bottom of the downhills. The 34 milers would ride this 3-4 mile section mostly uphill on their way back into town. The 50 milers would get to ride this section both out and back. There will be some “sketchy downhills” on the way out and “on the way back the sand at the bottom of those downhills will zap your legs before the punchy uphills challenge your will power”. There was a July 24th update post reporting the rain had made the washouts on Gilbert Corners a little bigger. “Caution Ahead” signs were put out throughout the course with a Facebook posted warning “when you see a caution sign, we mean it!”

 

Athletic Mentors represented well in the race with athletes using a variety of tire sizes.

  • Jared Dunham took 3rd overall in the 50 mile race. He rode 42cc but felt he would have been fine on 40cc tires. Jared said he feels like the sand made a few of the hills more challenging but you don’t need a big tire to ride the course. He further stated that “The Divide may be 50 miles but it’s probably the most memorable 50 mile race course I’ve done so far.” He thought it was a good race, very hilly with some sand thrown in.
  • Terry Ritter took top spot in the 50+ class for the 50 mile on 36cc tires. He felt the course conditions were excellent; right direction and plenty of heavy rain the day before.
  • Hunter Post took 1st in his age group and 4th overall in the 50 mile race, racing 40 cc tires. He also felt the rain helped firm up the sand, but the depth was still energy draining. Particularly on the 2nd lap, once the sand was chewed up by other riders. Hunter liked the direction of this year’s outer loop as well.
  • Melanie Post took 1st in her age group for the 34 mile race. Melanie  raced on 40 cc tires and stated she also liked the route this year. “The sandy climbs were definitely the most challenging part of the course, aside from just the elevation gain in general. The course was very well marked with great volunteers as always.”
  • I raced the 50 mile route on 36cc tires and finished 2nd overall for women. Choosing lines on the edge of the two-tracks was helpful but I still did my fair share of walking some of the deeper sand. The main gravel roads were in great condition.

The Divide really does have something for everyone with 3 options for miles, challenging climbs, fun and memorable sections of sand, and beautiful scenery on quiet gravel roads. It is a great fundraiser with all proceeds going to Manton’s cross country and track teams.  Hope to see YOU there next year!!


My Oatmeal Cookbook

February 9th, 2020 by JoAnn Cranson

By Jared Dunham

As an endurance athlete you may be faced with many early morning or otherwise inconveniently timed workouts to your daily schedule. To fuel for one of said workouts it’s easy to reach for a protein bar, cereal or a similar product, however a better and more holistic option is oatmeal. Oatmeal is an empty canvas as far as food goes, it can be served in many ways and variations. Admittedly I’m an emerging oat addict myself, eating mostly oatmeal for a great deal of my past breakfasts. Nowadays I don’t eat oats nearly as much as I did in the past but still thoroughly enjoy the dish every now and again. With that being said, here are some of my favorite recipes for oatmeal. I hope they help break you out of your daily oat rut or make you take a shot in the dark and try some oats for the first time.

Quick Notes:

  • These oat recipes can be made easily in 15 minutes or less with the caveat that you use a microwave for cooking.
  • Most microwaves have an “Oatmeal’ setting on them, however cooking them for about 3 minutes is a good substitute.
  • Boiling oatmeal on the stove in a cooking pot also works, however this requires a little more time and cleanup, so I usually opt for the microwave if I’m trying to whip up some oats quickly.
  • All my recipes are based on one serving and are a ½ cup of dry oats each.
  • When cooking these oats, I use about ¾ cup of water.
  • Milk is a good substitute, which some of the recipes call for, but I use water most of the time.
  • Lastly, the amounts of ingredients in these recipes are in the eye of the beholder and all these meals are open to editing so if there’s something you wanted to change then go ahead and try it.

Classic Recipes

Pumpkin Spice

While the season for pumpkin spice lattes may be over, you can still enjoy this meal anytime.

Ingredients: Estimated Nutrition Facts:

  • ½ Cup Oats Calories: 268
  • 1/2 tsp Pumpkin Spice Carbs: 38.5g
  • 1/8 Cup Pecans Fat: 10.3g
  • 1/4 Cup Canned Pumpkin Protein: 8g
  • ½ tbsp Brown Sugar

Directions:

  1. Begin cooking oats, about halfway through mix the canned pumpkin in with the water and oats.
  2. Finish cooking.
  3. Mix in brown sugar to be sure it melts while oats are hot. Afterwards stir in other ingredients and enjoy.

Cinnamon Apple

Cinnamon apple is a very simple recipe that is a good option if you are trying to fuel for a workout or day without many bells or whistles attached.

Ingredients: Estimated Nutrition Facts:

  • ½ Cup Oats Calories: 204
  • ½ Finely Chopped Apple Carbs: 41.7g
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon Fat:3.2g

Protein:6.3g

Directions:

  1. Chop up half an apple while aats cook.
  2. When oats finish mix in Cinnamon and Apple.

Cooking Notes: If you’re looking to sweeten up this recipe then add half a tablespoon of brown sugar or maple syrup.

Maple Nut

This recipe was crafted to mimic the taste of the “Maple Nut” glazing that coats a doughnut of the same name. The main difference is this one speeds you up instead of slowing you down.

Ingredients: Estimated Nutrition Facts:

  • ½ Cup Oats Calories: 300
  • 1 tbsp Natural Peanut Butter Carbs: 45.1g
  • 1 tbsp Real Maple Syrup Fat:11g
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract Protein:9.5g

Directions:

  1. Cook oats, then mix all ingredients.

Carb Load

Sweet Potato Oats

Sweet potatoes and oatmeal can be a match made in heaven especially if you’re looking to pack in a few extra all-natural carbs before a ride. This bowl combines the two with a dash of sweetness and salt.

Ingredients: Estimated Nutrition Facts:

  • ½ Cup Oats Calories: 321
  • 1/2 Sweet Potato Carbs: 52g
  • 1 tbsp Brown Sugar Fat: 10g
  • 1/8 Cup Chopped Pecans Protein: 7g

Directions:

  1. Chop up the Sweet Potato while Oats cook.
  2. Stir in Brown Sugar to melt after Oats finish.
  3. Cook Sweet Potato in microwave if you need to.
  4. Mash Potato in with Oats until desired texture is achieved.
  5. Mix in Pecans.

Cooking Notes: The fastest way to make this recipe is to microwave the potato however, if you steam it, that will allow the spud to mix better with the oats. If you’re looking for more carbs add the whole potato.

The Fruit Bowl

Let’s see how many different fruits we can mix in with oatmeal. This is less of a standout than some of the other recipes but still holds true with how great oats taste when your average fruits are mixed in.

Ingredients: Estimated Nutrition Facts:

  • ½ Cup Oats Calories: 259
  • ½ tbsp Honey Carbs: 55g
  • 1 Sliced Strawberry Fat:3.3g
  • 1 Sliced Orange Wedge Protein:7g
  • 1/4 Chopped Apple
  • 1/4 Sliced Banana
  • 6 Grapes

Directions:

  1. If Fruit isn’t already prechopped then do that while Oats cook.
  2. Mix Honey followed by Fruit when Oats are finished.

Cooking Notes: This recipe requires various fruits, but you can use whatever may be at your disposal. If there’s any leftover fruit salad, simply use that or chop up fruit to be used for several servings and then store in the refrigerator.

Beet Oatmeal

Studies have shown that beets can help improve performance in endurance sports when consumed before exercise. It only makes sense that we add them in with oats.

Ingredients: Estimated Nutrition Facts:

  • ½ Cup Oats Calories: 260
  • ¾ Cup Beet Juice Carbs: 54.4g
  • 1/2 Finely Chopped Apple Fat: 3.2g
  • ½ tsp Cinnamon Protein: 6.4g
  • ½ tsp Vanilla
  • 1 tbsp Brown Sugar

Directions:

  1. Add Beet Juice instead of Water to Oatmeal for cooking.
  2. Chop Apple while Oats cook.
  3. Once Oats are finished, mix in: Cinnamon, Vanilla, Brown Sugar and Apple.

Cooking Notes: Unless you have a juicer or direct access to beet juice then mixing dried beet powder in with water will be your best option. That is what I do here.

Protein Packed

Greek Oats and Berries

For this recipe the Greek Yogurt provides a nice contrast to the citrus flavor of the mixed fruit.

Ingredients: Estimated Nutrition Facts:

  • ½ Cup Oats Calories: 210 to 235
  • ½ Cup Frozen Mixed Berries Carbs: 38 to 40g
  • ¼ to ½ Cup Greek Yogurt Fat: 3g

Protein: 10 to 15g

Directions:

  1. Cook Oats.
  2. Cook Berries separately.
  3. Mix warmed Fruit with Oats and Greek yogurt.

Cooking Notes: I prefer to leave the fruit juice that comes with the frozen fruit in when I mix with oats.

Strawberry Dream

I was a little hesitant on mixing cottage cheese in with oatmeal but soon discovered that the pair have a similar flavor that jives perfectly.

Ingredients: Estimated Nutrition Facts:

  • ½ Cup Oats Calories: 279 to 334
  • 6 Chopped Strawberries Carbs: 48 to 50g
  • ¼ to ½ Cup Cottage Cheese Fat: 5 to 8g
  • 1tbsp Strawberry Jam Protein: 8 to 17g

Directions:

  1. Chop Strawberries while Oats cook.
  2. After Oats are ready; mix in Cottage Cheese and Strawberry Jam.
  3. Lastly, add Strawberries.

Cooking Notes: This recipe can be adapted to any fruit, EX: Chopped Peaches and Peach Jam.

Savory Oat Bowl

Here’s another one you may have to be open minded about. Trust me though, there’s nothing under the sun that doesn’t taste great with bacon and cheese.

Ingredients: Estimated Nutrition Facts:

  • ½ Cup Oats Calories: 361
  • 2 Eggs (Runny) Carbs: 28g
  • 1 Crumbled Slice of Cooked Bacon Fat: 18.3g
  • 1 tbsp Shredded Cheddar Cheese Protein: 22.8g
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Fry Eggs while Oats cook.
  2. Mix Cheddar Cheese in with oats after they’re finished.
  3. Add Bacon to mixture.
  4. Mix in Salt and Pepper to taste, then top with Runny Eggs.

Cooking notes: I prefer using runny eggs for this recipe because the yoke adds more flavor to the bowl, however I have tried mixing scrambled in with oats. Something I haven’t tried is mixing precooked oats in with scrambled eggs as they cook. If you want to make this recipe much faster with less cleanup make sure to pre-fry your bacon and then simply store in the fridge till you need to use it, then microwave to warmup for this recipe.

Indulgent Recipes

Elephant Ear

As the name would suggest, the main objective of this recipe was to have a similar taste with that of an Elephant Ear. This one is surprisingly low calorie compared to a lot of the other recipes that made it onto the “Indulgent” list.

Ingredients: Estimated Nutrition Facts:

  • ½ Cup Oats Calories: 271
  • 1 tbsp Sugar Carbs: 32G
  • ½ tbsp Cinnamon Fat: 14.5G
  • 1 tbsp Melted Butter Protein: 5G

Directions:

  1. Begin cooking Oats
  2. Near the end of their prep add Butter to be melted.
  3. Mix Butter in with Oats and add other ingredients.

Almond Joy

We’re going for an Almond Joy candy bar here, enough said.

Ingredients: Estimated Nutrition Facts:

  • ½ Cup Oats Calories: 577
  • 1/8 Cup Sweetened Coconut Flakes Carbs: 64.6g
  • 1/8 Cup Chocolate Chips Fat: 31g
  • 1/2 Cup Whole Milk Protein: 18.6g
  • 1/8 Cup Sliced Almonds

Directions:

  1. Cook Oats with Milk instead of Water.
  2. After Oats have finished mix in Chocolate Chips till they melt, followed by other ingredients.

Cooking Notes: Obviously if you’re looking for a leaner version of this recipe it can be done. I’d recommend replacing Whole Milk with Almond and lessening the rest of the ingredients.

PB&J

Here’s an idea to shakeup that average, packed lunch, peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

Ingredients: Estimated Nutrition Facts:

  • ½ Cup Oats Calories: 397
  • 1 tbsp Natural Peanut Butter Carbs: 49g
  • 1 tbsp Natural Jelly Fat: 17g
  • 1/2 Cup Whole Milk Protein: 15.3g

Directions:

  1. Cook Milk with Oats instead of Water.
  2. After Oats have finished mix in other ingredients.

Cooking Notes: If you’re looking to save a few calories, skimp out on the Whole Milk and replace it with Almond or Skim.

The Usual

The Usual was probably my favorite recipe for quite some time, it capitalizes on the banana and peanut butter combination that works so well with oatmeal. A note however, this recipe has a lot of horsepower so you may want to save this one for a hard workout or race.

Ingredients: Estimated Nutrition Facts:

  • ½ Cup Oats Calories: 436
  • 1 tbsp Natural Peanut Butter Carbs: 64.5g
  • 1 tbsp Sliced Almonds or Other Nuts Fat: 15.3g
  • 1 tbsp Natural Maple Syrup Protein: 11.6g
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1/2 Chopped Banana

Directions:

  1. Slice up your Banana while Oats cook.
  2. When Oats are finished mix ingredients in as followed: Maple Syrup, Vanilla Extract, Cinnamon, Natural Peanut Butter, Sliced Almonds, and Banana.

Enjoy your Oats!!


My First Ore to Shore

November 18th, 2019 by JoAnn Cranson

By:  Todd Anthes

This race has been on my wish list for some time.  2019 was the year.

The trip to Marquette is an event in and of itself.  It is sufficient to say the we live in a great State.  I went a few days early so as not to feel rushed.

I traveled with a group of guys that I train with. They have been doing the race about a decade, so they knew all the ins and outs of the race.  I did not request a preferred start but was in the first row of general population. And right before the start the rope comes down and I was right at the back of the preferred starters.

The rollout on the road was somewhat mild, although within the first few minutes there was a crash on the right side of the field. The sound of screeching brakes and carbon hitting the road is never a good sound.

I raced on my hardtail as my shifter on my full suspension bike appeared to be failing the day before the race. I would have preferred to race on my soft tail given the rough trails and rocky two tracks. Regardless, the hardtail was nice on the limited roads and smooth trail.

I tend to like cross country and less techy courses, and this course delivers. 48 miles of two-tracks, gravel, rocks, and ending with a little bit of single-track.

About 5 minutes into the race I was passing a group that included a friend. I was chatting with him on the two-track when my front wheel was sucked into a wet little hole. It sent me over the bars and into the weeds. It was so quick I was really startled, but nonetheless ok. I was back on my bike, but my computer and race plate were dangling from my handlebars. It wasn’t until the top of Misery Hill until I stopped to adjust those items.

One of the funnier moments of the race, as I was going back and forth with a teammate, he asked me why I kept stopping. I just laughed it off given the crash; if he only knew.

My little spill at the start of the race caused me to work harder than I probably would have for about half the race. I ultimately caught the group I was riding with when I crashed, but I burned some matches in doing so.  The last ¼ of the race I was on the verge of cramping and couldn’t go as fast as I wanted.  Regardless the single-track at about 8 miles left was fun and familiar, especially given the pre ride on Friday.

The race didn’t go as I had hoped, but you just get up, keep going and enjoy the moment.  I’ve always had a conflict the weekend of this race. Moving forward it looks like I will be able to do this race, and that is a great thing as I thoroughly enjoyed myself.


Iceman Reflux

October 23rd, 2019 by JoAnn Cranson

By:  Terry Ritter

Somewhere along the way I became an elder statesmen in the racing scene. Though I can’t pinpoint when this exactly was, I know it’s happened every season when the Iceman rolls around. There’s a chat with a new or novice racer and I reminisce regarding all the changes I remember over the years in the great November race. Though I’m sure others (though not many) can tell me some interesting changes, my quarter century of Iceman participation leaves me with a few things many people who identify with this event probably don’t know.

There Used to Be a More Traditional Race Format

For a number of years Iceman was organized like most traditional races. There were ubiquitous categories like Beginner, Sport, and Expert, with age groups aligning with the age groupings based off the long defunct NORBA standard. This meant each of these categories had five year age divisions up to and over 50 years old. It made for smaller fields, but you also knew who you were racing against when the gun went off, which was the norm. It was certainly a different way to race head-to-head versus today’s individual time trial method, where your time is then compared to others regardless of your starting wave. Obviously, you could almost pick what class you wanted, and that did group riders of dissimilar abilities, Today’s waving placement method, though frustrating for some, works more effectively to eliminate this disparity.

The Pro’s Started the Race First

It’s probably been well over a dozen years, but the race was more traditional in other ways as well. Primarily, the Pro fields, both men’s and women’s, started in their own waves, but were the first to go off. This created a lot more buzz at the start, and also insured they had the “clean” lines. But it was recognized that many of the Iceman racers were also fans, and they never got a chance to see the pros race, and specifically to finish. The solution was to have the pros go off in the afternoon, after most of the fields had finished and had time to clean up and get a little into their celebratory mode. I was racing the Pro class when we first did the later start. Having done only morning send offs to that point, it was really strange to stand there trying to amp up to compete and there was hardly anyone in the parking lot, and next to no buzz at the start. I distinctly remember being able to hear others around me breathing it was so quiet just seconds before the start. And though I went through a lot of that race competing with just a handful of riders, it was really cool to get closer to the finish and see all the people, then to get to Timber Ridge and have so many cheering. That made it worth it!

The Start and Finish Have Changed Over the Years

Back when the Iceman was a fledgling event the finish was at Holiday Hills ski resort, home of the start and finish of the now popular Mud Sweat and Beers MTB race. Since I started race this event in 1996, the start has been at the Kalkaska High School, downtown Kalkaska, and soon to be the Kalkaska Airport (this year). I can remember my first finish in 1996 being out in a field off the VASA Bunker Hill trailhead. No festivities, banners, or food trucks (or bathrooms, even). Before long the race established Timber Ridge Camp Ground as the finish line and it has grown to be a cool hang out as the years have passed.

Awards Banquette

For a number of years the race had an awards banquette in the evening, usually at the Grand Traverse Resort. With most of the racers finished by noon-2 PM, there was a good 4-5 hours before the awards were to be given out. This allowed a nap, something to eat, and hooking up with friends before heading over to the festivities. I had fond memories of one of my friends who worked for the promoter and lived locally doing an early afternoon spread where a number of the invited pros would come to hang out, eat, and maybe start the beer drinking early. It was a small setting, and people got to talk to each other. For a span of a few years the Iceman was sponsored by Gary Fisher and they used to send a large amount of their national MTB team to the race. I have a neat photo of myself and a young Ryder Hesjedal, many years before he switched to road and won the Giro d’italia.

National Pros Competing

One of the cool things about the Iceman, and cycling in general, is how approachable the top competitors are around the event. The expo the day before wasn’t always what it is today, but often you’d be able to talk to a few of the racers you just see in magazines. But the fact is, though we enjoy a pretty solid pro field in recent years, the Iceman was usually a locals or regional event. One or two good riders would show up that made a living racing a bike, but it wasn’t unheard of for someone you know to break the top 10 in the men’s class or top 5 in the women. Some years the winner would not have been recognized outside of the state. For one of the years Ryder came (and the pros started first in the morning) I remember passing him and another pro about 7 miles from the finish. They were just out enjoying the ride after a long season. To the benefit of the spectators, this hasn’t been the case for a while. Now you are sure to recognize most of the top riders as national competitors, some who have come to compete a few times. And, they know they have to take it seriously because there’s quality riders behind them. Good payouts, great accommodations, the lure of competing in a race they have heard about for years is likely strong drivers to toe the line.

Champions in Our Backyard

A bonus tidbit, but the Iceman has had a number of world champions compete over the years. Cecila Potts won the 1997 Junior World Championships in MTB and holds four winner’s trophies from Iceman. Art Flemming won multiple national championships for his age group and is the 1996 world champion for the 50-59 year old class. A few years back the great Ned Overend, 6 time national champion and 1990 world champion did his first Iceman. TC local Larry Warbasse, long before he was a national road champion and Pro Tour rider, competed in numerous events. Local John Mesco was a junior national champion in downhill. The present men’s 2x Iceman Cometh champion Jeff Kabush holds 15 Canadian national championships and a World Cup win. Alison Dunlop, the 2009 Iceman winner, was also multi-national champion and world champion in 2001. The late Steve Tilford raced for years as a national pro and won a number of age group world championships. Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski and his wife Heather Irmiger have both won national championships and competed and won our great race. I’m missing a few, and haven’t even mentioned the interesting racers many would recognize (Gary Fisher, anyone?), but the point is the race has had its share of accomplished participants in all fields cycling.

The Iceman Cometh has really evolved over the years, from a small group of friends to a spectacle that people put on their cycling bucket list. Along the way it has found a way to become better while still holding that same spirit of fun that is mountain biking and racing. I consider myself fortunate to have witnessed so much of it and am still around to share. Happy Birthday, Iceman! Here’s to 30 more years.


Detroit Cycling Championship Team Recap

September 16th, 2017 by Kaitlyn Patterson

–By Terry Ritter

September 9th saw big time bicycle racing return to the Detroit area. The Detroit Athletic Club put on the inaugural Detroit Cycling Championship. This event had a large purse ($45K!), and drew both amateur and pro teams from around the Midwest region and our friends to the east, Canada.

The course was interesting as well, though rather challenging. Three of the main roads used ran the perimeter of Comerica Park, where the Tigers play Major League baseball. Between corners #2 and #3 was a pretty good downhill that generated speeds in excess of 30 mph. From here there was a short section between turns #4 and #5, then #5 and #6, and back onto the long, slight uphill straight. And, being inner streets of a major city, the patched pavement and utility covers were plentiful, with the worst examples of the former on the course’s fast decent. Add a quality prize list and the accomplished riders that show for such a draw, and you’ve got a technical race that was fast and strung out from the gun. Having frequent primes only ramped things up more.  Moving up and maintaining position was a challenge, especially since the opportunity to transit through the field of riders was muted by the speed, and dive-bombing corners was a common occurrence.

The ample purse meant a lot of new riders, and opportunities to have different race classes combined compared to the normal Michigan scene. This meant not only grouped category 3s and 4s races, but category 2s and 3s as well. There was also a full masters class. Ultimately, this left the racers on Team Athletic Mentors the opportunity to not only get a couple of events in, but to race with each other when we normally don’t get that chance.

Toeing the line in the combined Cat. 2/3 race was Terry Ritter, Rich Landgraff, Luke Cavender, Collin Snyder, Ross Williams, and Bobby Munro. Like all the races, this one was fast. Collin won a prime early on, then took a flyer to try to get away with three laps to go. However, there was too much horsepower for anything but a sprint finish.

Ross and Bobby were active in their Cat. 3 only race, with Ross attacking for a prime and then Bobby countering the next lap to try to get away. Great to see some tactical racing from our up-and-coming racers.

The Masters race was all three categories (35+, 45+, 55+), and it made for a large field but interesting dynamic. It wasn’t slow by any means (the 35+ group assured that), and there was a national champion kit in the mix as well. Richard, Peter O’Brien, and Terry doubled up (Peter was in the Cat. 3 Masters race earlier), with Jonathan Morgan joining the crew.

Elaine was our sole female Team Athletic Mentor rider and competed in the Cat. 3/4 race, as well as the Cat. P/1/2/3 race. Like the other races, the group was rarely grouped together, and the later race was especially fast. There were a few teams that were recognizable from the National Criterium Championship race earlier in the summer.  With this being Elaine’s first year of serious road racing (not to mention criteriums), she did very well and represented the team impressively.

The final event of the day was the Pro/1/2, slated for 80 mins. A lot of big regional teams were there and it was super fast. Dan Yankus, Collin, Peter Ehmann and Jonathan started. Many riders didn’t finish due to the pace. Eventually, a group of 5 got away, including two Bissell Pro riders, that lapped the field. Then, with about 10 laps to go, there was a crash that left a few riders in need of medical attention and the race was halted, only to restart after the break with a fast conclusion. With a $200 prime on the second to last lap, the pace was high…until the group passed the first corner as the last lap bell was ringing. Bissell slowed a bit around corner #2, with Daniel taking advantage and shooting up near the front on the outside. Unfortunately, a number of riders dive bombed the inside corner, pushing Daniel and the Bissell train towards the outside and into the barriers, causing a crash. Fortunately, no one was hurt too badly and the race finished on that lap. Collin came home with 30th on the evening.

Not getting enough racing for the weekend, Bobby, Daniel, Collin, Terry and Ross headed to Uncle John’s 56 mile gravel race north of Lansing on Sunday. Glen Dik joined the mix. The team was active early, with Daniel finishing fourth out of the small break that got away from the rest of the field. Collin got 6th overall and Terry came in 13th, and 3rd in the 47-51 age group. Elaine and JoAnn Cranson competed in the women’s 24 mile race as well.

There are rumors that next season the Detroit Criterium Championship will be earlier in the season and hopefully on the national cycling calendar. With the positive support and great organization of this year’s inaugural event, there’s little doubt this can grow bigger and better, showcasing the renewal of our great city.


Comebacks, Low-Carb, and that Little Race Up North

August 28th, 2017 by Kaitlyn Patterson

-By Terry Ritter

Back on May 13th of this year, during the first lap of the inaugural Port City Criterium, I took off after a break and rolled my tire in the fast downhill corner. I was able to scrub off some speed but this tumble at 30 mph left me with a hairline fracture in my left scapula and a right one in four pieces. For good measure, I also compressed three vertebrae and broke two ribs. Though not needing surgery was a good outcome, I was worried right away that I might not be ready for my favorite mountain bike race, Ore to Shore. I’ve faithfully competed in 17 of the 19 editions.

My shoulders have been deteriorating for years and I have been less than optimal on keeping up on the exercises needed so they stay MTB functional. That meant in the 2016 O2S my shoulders got the best of me and I completely came apart with ten miles to go, getting dropped from my group in a new single track section. I feared the same thing for this season. However, I was diligent with my recovery and physical therapy, pushed myself to get back on the bike and race as soon as I could (week 6 post crash), and hoped for the best.

One thing that didn’t need more confirmation was how switching to a lower carbohydrate diet had left me less need to consume nutrients during an event or ride. Two winters ago I did an experiment with Cricket and Mark of Athletic Mentors, doing metabolic testing (VO2 Max and Aerobic Threshold) work to see how doing a ketogenic diet (very low-carb) would impact my cycling. More specifically, I wondered how it would increase my fat burning, which it improved greatly. However, at least in the 4 month experiment we used, I lost a significant enough ability to do work anaerobically (short term power) that I had to bring some sugars back into my diet to be effective with a number plate on my bike.

What else was it like being a ketogenic athlete (also called “fat adapted”)? Well, our bodies burn glucose if it’s in our diet significantly, and that’s the case for most. For this reason, the brain and nerves are committed to using glucose. When it’s too low, we bonk. But, the hallmark of a ketogenic adaptation is to give the brain and nerves another fuel, one the muscles and other organs happily burn as well: ketone bodies. And the liver can make these all day from our own fat stores. This allowed me, at least for those 4 months, to totally disconnect my eating and working out. I did 1800-2000 kcal workouts and hadn’t eaten in 6-8 hours, something I could never have dreamed of in my past high carb. life.

When I did reintroduce carbs. during the race season,  I cut them back significantly from the “aerobic athletes needs carbs. for fuel” mantra I’d heard for decades. And, my power came back. However, I also noticed a significant reduction in what I needed to take in to race well during an event. My daily dietary carbs. through the season typically run 200g or less, depending on training days, many days 100 or less.

How does this math workout in a race? A calorie is just another unit of work, so a power meter, which measures kilojoules very accurately, can determine this value within a few percentage points. The 91 mile Cherry Roubaix took about 3100 kcals to complete. I did have a reasonable breakfast, but only had to take about 600 kcals in during the ride. The Ore to Shore was likely in the 2500 kcal range for work, but I only consumed about 400 kcals during the event…and didn’t finish either effort with any signs of hunger.

The net result is I have learned I don’t need to consume what now looks to be ridiculous levels of carbohydrates to able to perform well. Going this route has enhanced my fat burning ability, meaning I can use my own body stores, a good thing for other reasons besides athletic performance. And, though this is an entirely different topic, I believe it’s much healthier to consume fewer carbs., likely as little as we can. So, this bodes well with where I want my health to go.

The futile attempt to remove the special “mud” that exists at times in the Marquette area. We had some pretty substantial water on the course this year, creating rust colored puddles filled with iron particles. I have to give it a try, though, and now this kit will serve as attire for all O2S races in the near future.

Oh, and how’d the Ore to Shore end up? Well, I was just hoping to get to that place 10 miles before the finish still able to race the race. Darn if all that physical therapy didn’t do the trick and I was able to hang with the top 3 guys (and gal, as the lead women raced with us) as they attacked our group of 15 and made a separation. I was able to push all the way to the finish. This was good enough to squeak in 54th overall. Now, all I have to do is find the motivation to keep these shoulders stronger without rolling around on the pavement as motivation.

 


An object at rest stays at rest . . .

July 11th, 2017 by Kaitlyn Patterson

–By Aric Dershem

Newton’s 1st Law of Physics: An object in motion stays in motion and an object at rest stays at rest unless acted upon by an outside force.

sunrise

My brain is in shock as I try to determine where the noise is coming from. It takes me a few seconds to gain just enough consciousness to reach over to the bedside table and fumble around, eyes still closed, searching for the off button on the alarm clock. When I finally muster enough dexterity to flick the off button, I begrudgingly pull off the covers and swing my legs over the bed. My feet hit the hardwood floor with my elbows on my knees and my head in my hands. I look at my watch. 4:46 am. Even though I’m only in a semi-conscious state, I need to make a choice right now. Stand up and get moving or fall back into the warmth of my bed and the comfort of my pillow. The latter sounds so inviting at this time in the morning, but there’s a small part of me that knows that this is my only chance. This is going to take the force of my will to get moving. If I’m going to ride today, I have to ride now.

aric lights

Over the next several minutes I slowly emerge from my grogginess into a state of complete consciousness. It’s chilly outside – chillier than it should be for early June. I have a hard workout on my training plan for today. I find myself having an all too familiar conversation in my head – What am I doing? Isn’t this supposed to be fun? Some days, this whole “cycling thing” feels more like a job.

It’s 5:20. I ratchet my shoes tight and pull on my helmet and glasses. As I step out the door, am smacked in the face by the cool early morning air. I dread the chill that seems to go right through me when I start riding, but I’m committed at this point. I check my setup – rear flashers are on, one solid front light and one flashing front light. The Garmin has satellite connection and the power meter is calibrated. I swing my leg over the bar and hear the familiar sound of my cleats clipping into my pedals. One press of the start/stop button and my Garmin is capturing every bit of data about my the ride I am about to take. With a few standing pedal strokes, I’m down the driveway and out onto the road.

Even in these pre-dawn hours it takes about 20 minutes to get out of town. I have the roads mostly to myself. There’s an occasional car, but I’m more likely to see rabbits, racoon or deer. Nearly every stoplight I hit is flashing. I’m able to roll-up and (usually) roll through. The sleep is out of my system by now and I’m enjoying the feeling of acceleration when stand-up on my pedals. I feel the almost metronomic rhythm of my pedals as my wheels roll resolutely over the pavement – I focus on smoothing out my pedal strokes. Occasionally I look down at my Garmin to check on my progress, but mostly I take in the familiar landmarks as I slice my way through the city.

aric morning1Now that I’m riding the chill in the air no longer bothers me, instead the cool air hitting my skin feels refreshing. The thoughts of my warm bed have long left my head. I’m focused on the ride. My legs feel alive (even if they’re a little sore) and the sensation of speed as I focus my energy into my pedals is unlike any other.

Most non-cyclists think I’m crazy for riding on the road (they think it’s too dangerous). Many of my cycling friends think I’m crazy for riding this early in the morning (it is an ungodly hour to be awake). Regardless, these early morning rides have become the staple of my training. Like today, it usually takes a little extra effort to get out the door, but once I’m on the road, there are rewards waiting for me. Sometimes, the reward is just the sense of accomplishment that comes from surviving a hard workout while others are sleeping. Other times, the reward is the opportunity to greet the sunrise and experience the awe of the new day coming over the horizon. Every day I find myself moving relentlessly over the road, I’m rewarded by feeling a little more alive.

I check my watch and see that it’s almost 7:00. The morning traffic is in full flight with commuters rushing to work. I have to double-check behind me before making a left turn and watch for the drivers distracted by their coffee or their phones. By this point, the hardest work is usually behind me. I just feel the exhilaration of accelerating from intersection to intersection. I know that the ride is over soon – time to finish strong. I almost never hit the final intersection on a green light. This is a good place to call it a ride. I hit the “Start/Stop” button on my Garmin again. Just a short easy pedal home and I’m there.

As I roll up the driveway and see my family scurrying around the house as they being their morning routine. I pull up to the back door and unclip from my pedals. I can’t wipe the smile off my face. I’m 35-miles into my day and ready to face whatever comes. That feeling of forward motion carries me into my day – I feel like there’s no stopping me . Now I just need to remember that feeling tomorrow morning when the alarm goes off . . .

aric sunrise 2

 

 


Eyes in the Back of Your Head  

November 1st, 2016 by Kaitlyn Patterson

–By Aric Dershem, Team OAM NOW Cyclist

As road cyclists, we love the feeling of the wind in our face (and even better, the wind at our back). We love the way the road rolls below us as our feet push and pull the pedals. We love seeing the countryside pan by us as we cover mile after mile under our own power. We love the sound of a quiet drive train propelling us forward. We love all these things about road biking and so many more. We find it difficult to imagine why anyone would not love road cycling and hard to explain why we love it so much.

Unfortunately, we have all heard stories about close calls or experienced firsthand confrontations between motorists and cyclists. This year seems worse than ever with far too many of these confrontations ending tragically.

We love to be on the road, but we must also recognize that a real element of risk exists every time we roll down our driveway and into the street. There are some things that research is telling us that we can do to dramatically improve our safety on the road. A recent study sponsored by a major bicycle manufacturer found that there are three primary actions we can take as cyclists to protect ourselves. They use the mnemonic, A+B+C to help us remember these.

A)    Always on lighting – 80% of bike accidents happen during daylight. Having lights on even during daylight hours attracts the attention of motorists and helps us stand out.

B)    Biomotion – When we highlight the motion of our bodies using reflectors, this makes us more recognizable as humans to drivers who might be otherwise distracted.

C)    Contrast – High visibility and reflective gear helps us stand out day or night.

Even before this recent study came out, I made the commitment to run lights every time I take the road. I am one of those cyclists who usually rides alone and most often early in the morning (before sunrise). For me, riding with lights is essential both for me to see and be seen. One morning as I waited at an intersections at 6 am, a woman pulled up next to me and rolled down her window. I was naturally expecting the worst, but was pleasantly surprised by the interaction. She leaned over to the passenger side window and said, “I could see your lights a half-mile up the road. Thank you for being so visible.” Interactions like this only confirm the value of being visible to motorists. Now, I never hit the road, day or night, without lights.aric lights

I personally recommend the Bontrager Ion 800R headlight and Flare R rear light. Both are small, compact, come with a versatile (and interchangeable mount) and are rechargeable using a standard microUSB cable (included). These lights can be purchased at great trek dealers like Speedmerchants Bike Shop. While you can often find less expensive light, the 800 lumen front light provides a strong enough beam to ride at night while the Flare R is bright enough to be highly visible even in full daylight. The only problem with the Flare R is that on its high setting, some people may not want to ride behind you because it’s so bright.

marie lights

In addition to making ourselves visible, there are other relatively new technologies that we can use us safe. RoadID, maker of the prolific ID bracelets, offers a free app for your mobile phone that will text a link to anyone you designate when you leave for a ride. The link takes the recipient to a map showing where you are on your ride and will automatically notify them if you stop moving for more then 5-minutes without turning the app off. My wife and I use this constantly to make sure that we can be notified if something happens to either of us while out on the road.

Perhaps my favorite piece of safety technology is my Garmin Varia rearview. I received this as a gift ast year for Christmas and had no idea how valuable this would be. The Varia is a rear light with multiple flashing modes. While it is not as bright as the Flare R, it is still part of my everyday setup because the Varia rearview essentially give me eyes in the back of my head. That’s right, the Varia is rear-facing radar that alerts my Garmin head unit when a vehicle (or vehicles) are approaching me from behind. This allows me to keep my focus on the road ahead of me while still being aware of what is coming from behind me. I have found this to be especially useful when I’m riding on busy roads with high traffic speeds or roads with especially narrow shoulders. Having used this technology for the past year, I have to say that on those rare occasions when I don’t ride with my Varia, I miss it. The ability to know when traffic is approaching allows me to ride defensively without constantly looking behind me to see if anything is coming. It makes my rides both safer and more enjoyable.

garmin lights

At the end of the day, 99.9% of us ride for the fun it offers us and the challenge it presents to us. Like any activity, it comes with some inherent risks, but we can take some deliberate steps to reduce that risk. Over the past year, I have become increasingly aware of my role in staying safe on the road and I’m grateful for technology that allows me to be more visible to the drivers I’m sharing the road with and have eyes in the back of my head. Let’s all do our part to make the road safe for everyone so we can all enjoy the benefits of the road together.



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